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Former Chief Ombudsman and former head of Foreign Affairs Sir George Laking is to receive an Honorary Doctorate from Victoria University.

Sir George has had a distinguished career as a senior diplomat and, after retiring from Foreign Affairs, served as Chief Ombudsman for New Zealand from 1977 to 1984.

He was knighted for his work in 1985.

Sir George will receive an Honorary Doctor of Laws at Victoria’s December graduation ceremony this year in recognition of his outstanding service in Foreign Affairs, as Chief Ombudsman and in other legal roles.

“Sir George Laking has distinguished himself greatly in these two different fields of diplomacy and law. In each of them he has demonstrated remarkable powers of intellect and imagination,” Victoria University Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart McCutcheon said.

Sir George began to study law at the University of Auckland but completed his degree at Victoria while he was working in the Customs Department. In 1940, he joined the Prime Minister’s Department, which later became the Department of External Affairs.

During his diplomatic career, Sir George was acting High Commissioner for New Zealand in London (1958-1961), New Zealand Ambassador in Washington (1961-67) and Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Permanent Head of the Prime Minister’s Department (1967-72).

“In each of these posts, he gave distinguished service, under different governments,” Professor McCutcheon said.

After retiring from Foreign Affairs, Sir George was appointed an Ombudsman (1975-1977) and served as Chief Ombudsman from 1977 to 1984. He was chairman of the Legislation Advisory Committee, and a member of the Human Rights Commission.

The first four heads of Foreign Affairs were all Victoria graduates: Sir Carl Berendsen, Sir Alister McIntosh, Sir George Laking and Mr Frank Corner. Professor McCutcheon said by honouring Sir George, Victoria was acknowledging the close relationship it has long had with Foreign Affairs as well as with the legal profession.

The University awards Honorary Doctorates to those who have achieved outstanding distinction in their field and who have contributed to the University and to New Zealand in general.

At its May graduation this year, Victoria presented an Honorary Doctorate to deep sea volcanic expert Professor Alexander Malahoff.


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